Start The New Year Off Wrong

My new New Year’s tradition — start the new year off wrong.  I am not much for making resolutions, although I know they are helpful for some.  It is better for me to know what direction I want to be heading, set a goal or two, keep my head on straight in the present.  Thus my fresh philosophy of starting from the bottom, make that one mistake or big sin on January 1, start at the bottom and let the year be a one at a time trip up the stairs.

As a Christian, I am someone who believes that each day could be that way.  I think that is something everyone understands, even if you don’t believe in God the same way that I do.  Putting it into practice, actually living like I believe it, is another story.  For me, each day starts with simple prayer, with an emphasis on simple.  Thank you is an essential ingredient of each of my prayers, sometimes all that I can pray, but I also try to ask for assistance in trusting — the key to my making it through most days.  I need not only to trust God and, yes, to trust myself.  That means being willing to accept that I am going to make mistakes, trust that no mistake is going to destroy me, no mistake unforgiveable.

That can change me in so many ways, change my relationships.  If I can forgive myself, trust myself and my God to leave each trespass behind, then I have to accept that the same goes for anyone else.

Paul understood that.  He wrote about that in his letter to the Christians in Corinth —

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. — II Corinthians 12:9 NIV

I sometimes wonder if that thorn he speaks about, that weakness, involved the standards he set for himself and others.  What he wrote before and after the quoted verse seems to say that.  Paul had made a mistake, needed to ask forgiveness, admit his weakness and move past it.  He was a flawed man, but I think he knew that his weaknesses could make him strong.  But I think he also had little tolerance for weakness in others, and overcoming that was difficult for him.  That had to change and he knew it.  After all, being aware of those weaknesses allowed him to be open to trusting in Christ, to God’s power.

So I start from weakness, knowing that moving on from that makes me strong.  That realization seems more realistic to me, allows me to understand myself a little bit better.  A New Year doesn’t need to be that year where everything gets better, not if I realize that bad things and good things happen all the time, every year.  Really what makes an day, week, month, season, or year good or bad is how I choose it to be.  There are going to be blessings, far more than I will ever notice.  There are going to be challenges, tragedies, mistakes and most I will be aware of.  When I learn to say thanks in everything, trust, then I know I will make it — just like I have up to this point in time.

I wonder where those stairs are taking me?  Ever think about that?  How many stairs do I have left to climb?  Each year that goes by, I take those steps a little slower, rest a little more often, even let others help me up the next one and help someone up their own step.

Start the new year off wrong.  I dare you.  Let it change you.

Christmas Past, Christmas Present

I wrote the title first, intending to mull over some of the thoughts I am having about my son during this Christmas present.  Christmas past has moments that I hope that spirit doesn’t make me visit, even as the past threatens to reappear.  Times are different now, at least it seems so, with some healing and maturing mixed in with a tad bit of learning.  Yet, I am afraid.

My son is living with me again, during his holiday break.  He arrived a week ago, almost unannounced, called me during the afternoon and asked me if I was going to be home in three hours.  I was on my lunch break at work.  I told him that I needed to help my friend, Jim, move some furniture after work, would probably be home around six.  My son was coming home a few days early.  That wasn’t a big deal.  My place was already clean, with clean sheets ready for his bed, the closet in my spare bedroom cleared so that he would have plenty of room for his stuff during his month long break.

I should take a picture of his room right now and post it here….

He is SUCH a twenty year old male.  No staging was required.  I just snapped a few pics and ran for my life.  How in the world did he manage to mess up the blinds?  I really don’t know if any of his stuff has made it into the closet or the empty dresser.  The rest of the house has been up for grabs, with his clutter extending into the living space.  That has been minimal, his awareness from existing with me during Thanksgiving break giving him some much appreciated knowledge of what it’s like to live with his father.  I have had to clean up after him, but he is also making sure he keeps things a little straight.  It probably helps that I don’t harp at him.  He is still piggish, but not the rude boor of a child I knew a few years ago has diminished considerably.  I can take some clutter as long as he is considerate, which he has mostly accomplished.  As it was at Thanksgiving, he has honored quiet hours and lets me sleep, important since I get up at 5 each morning for work.

Yesterday was the second warmest Christmas day on record for Chicagoland, the balmiest since 1982.  Nate opted for sleeping in, skipped a butt crack of dawn ride with me, yet managed to use up every last drop of hot water for his shower while I was out two wheeled sleigh riding.  I had to take a brisk and icy cold shower after my ride.  Let’s just say it was a blue Christmas without you (hot water… doo doo doo doo doo).  Not only did I get a ride in sans layers, but Nate and I played a few sets of tennis outdoors.. in shorts.

Christmas pasts have not always been pleasant, especially since my liberation from the chains of matrimony.  Nate had a major breakdown a few years ago, and it has been a challenge since.  Last year was good.  This year was good, except, well, he reacted poorly to my lady friend being with me Christmas afternoon, slammed the door to his bedroom.. twice.  She left rather than create further conflict and was pretty upset about the disrespect he demonstrated — which is characteristic of Christmases past.  He emerged after she left, acted like nothing happened, denied that he was upset at all when I confronted him about it.

Baby steps.  We survived and proved that we have learned a few things.  I am just hoping my condo survives the next few weeks of exposure.

Priorities and Elvish Evidence

Sunday.  Near noon.  The Bears are playing the Packers in a game that could decide if the Bears are playoff bound or not.  I am a Bears fan, excited to see that recently the team has been playing like they really do want to be a championship team.  My place on the couch was ready, a lazy afternoon of watching football waiting for me.  Adding to my interest was the success of my fantasy football team, a dismal loser at the beginning of this NFL season, with five straight losses out of the box.  Somehow, my team has lost only one week since then, and in the running for the big money right now.  I wanted to monitor all the scores and stats of today’s games.

Too bad my priorities are straight.  The weather outside was not frightful, although the fire was delightful, but the fire was not going to keep me inside.  It was sunny, with temperatures in the mid twenties.  Mountain biking was my priority.. and mountain biking won out over football.  After all, I could get to the trails by 11:30, be home a little after 2, still catch most of the third quarter.

There were no bowel related incidents during today’s ride.

Did you know that Santa’s elves mountain bike?  I discovered evidence of that today.  A few miles in during my ride, I found the decorated Christmas tree that either elves or gnomes put up next to the trail.  In the midst of the winter beauty was a large red ornament hanging over the trail, with a little tree.  I had to pause a while and wonder.

Tundra

‘Tundra’ might be pushing it when describing the state of the dirt here in northern Illinois, but it’s as close to a description as I can muster at this moment.  The top layer of dirt is pleasantly frozen today… and I LIKE that.  What that means to this mountain biker is that what has been mud has turned to solid frozen dirt.  Solid frozen dirt rides very, very well into the sun comes out and thaws that frozen top layer.  When it thaws, it’s a mucky mess that is not really worth riding.  So, when the dirt turns to Illinois tundra, the joys of the winter riding season around here are abundant.  This year has not provided an abundancy of off road riding, the rain too plentiful.  I and others frowned at the skies far more than we rode the past few months.

Nothing proves that more than looking around as I rode this morning.  With the summer vegetation and leaves gone, the woods are wonderfully wide open, creating a new view throughout the woods.  The trail system I ride the most is next to a large river, the trails built amongst berms left when that river was dredged and the debris from a close by mine was dumped next to the river.  There is always water in between the berms, with little swamps and lakes.  During a normal summer, all but the deepest water dries up.  There is usually only one water crossing on the trails, but today there were at least three, the water in between the berms so high that it encroached on the trails.  It was interesting to observe all the water, hidden behind the greenery all summer, and how it has taken over the park.  The water is a nearly luminescent green, beautiful, although I really don’t want to come in contact with it!

52207I stopped for a moment during this morning’s ride to snap a picture of my bike, share it with my friends (Jim and John).  It was 27 degrees when I started my ride and I really wanted to taunt them for being cold weather wimps, choosing indoor warmth and Zwift over the outdoors.  My friend, Dave, rolled up as I was taking the picture, asked me if I was going to sell my new Salsa.  Ain’t no way, unless financial strain makes that necessary (it could, but I will keep this positive).  Our friend, Chuck, pulled up as well.  We chatted about our Subara Crosstreks and Salsa bicycles as we watched two guys descend a jump the plateau.. there in the picture but a whole lot more intimidating than the picture shows.  Dave, Chuck, and I have a common bond with our bicycles and vehicles, as well as being in the over 50 club.  It was nice to catch up with them.

IMG_20191207_121609542It wasn’t really all that cold this morning, even though the temperature was under 30 degrees.  There was little to no wind.  On top of that, I have learned over the years to dress in layers, have collected the necessary components to make me comfortable in the cold.  To me, it was downright balmy!  My first layer is a synthetic mock long sleeved tee, with ‘capri’ style padded bib shorts (‘Capri’ is probably not what they are called, but, hey….).  The shorts have straps that go over my shoulders.  My feet have thermal socks with wool socks over them.  Second layer is fleece lined tights and a fleece lined long sleeve zip up vented jersey.  Over the jersey goes and wind proof vest, then an old fleece.

However, I experienced one of the not so nice aspects of the necessity of dressing in layers.  I was talking with my dad as I pulled up to my parking spot, had to excuse myself because,..er..ummmm…, nature was calling rather strongly.  I am not talking about the woods, although I COULD be.  It sucks getting old.  Nature isn’t so patient with me any more.  Combine that urgency with trying to quickly remove several layers of clothing, and you have a near disaster waiting to happen.

I survived cleanly.  Barely.

And there you have.  Tundra and turds and time well spent.

Seasoning

As I write, the boy is snoring away, the wall in between my living room and the spare bedroom is shaking from the sheer force of the buzzing gale he is emitting.  It is a new experience for me to hear him, this holiday break the first I have lived with him in over two years.  A lot has changed in that brief period of time, including the emergence of the snore.  We both have matured a bit, evidenced by the peaceful coexistence all week, a bit of a surprise for me.

Geez, the kid is really sawing away in there.

What I expected to experience this past week was a lot of lost sleep, caused by a hulk of a boy that I remembered from two years ago, with loud late night X-Box marathons capped by a midnight marathon shower, his music blaring selfishly through a Bluetooth speaker in the bathroom.  Trails of stench and scattered debris would be all over my humbly overly cared for abode, left by a being who really didn’t care about the havoc he administered to the order of my peaceful existence.  What seems like an exaggeration was the reality of mere thirty months ago.  I flinched with anxious thoughts as I anticipated his upcoming visit this past week.

Those anxious thoughts diluted while they swirled amongst the stronger feelings of gratitude.  To me, the notion that my son even wants to stay with me was a miracle.  When his mother and I sold our house, separated to be together no more, there was not a single doubt that he would live with her.  In my mind, she had helped to create the monster, fed his enormous appetite, protected him from my discipline, and the two belonged together.  He would never want to or be able to exist in the same hemisphere with me again.  I am not sure if I have said it, and if I have please forgive me, but they deserved each other and the separation was an immediate relief from unbelievable stress.  That didn’t mean that I did not or do not want a relationship with my son.  One of the biggest let downs for me was that it did not seem that all of the effort I had put into him would ever be returned.  I never thought we would have a decent relationship, that my son would ever value his relationship with me as his father, would ever want to spend time with me again.

I think pretty much every father goes through that.  Thankfully, most do not experience that through divorce.  There are few days I do not wonder if my marriage would not have been different, maybe even survived, had it not been for the conflict created by my relationship with my son and the escalation of that conflict by the choice his mother made in that conflict.  I will never know.

What I do know is that my son and I were both anxious about our first cohabitation since the separation and divorce.  I was providing sanctuary to him, sanctuary from living in the small space provided to him at his aunt’s town home, a freedom of sorts.  He would have to live in my very orderly space, a space that has been mine alone for over two years, but he would have his own space in my home.  I know he preferred that, know that he has been reaching out to me and lifting me up.  I was anxious, but I really hoped that this time it would be different than it was two years ago.

I think we both were surprised.

He came home to my home, tentative, not knowing what I would expect from him.  I gave him a lot of freedom.  I think he liked that.  It was obvious that I am meticulous, not liking my space to be invaded, but he did a good job of adjusting to my expectations.  He wasn’t perfect, but he was respectful, careful, conscious of the world I have created and he did his best to fit his twenty year old male self into that world.  I did my best to accommodate him, not press him into a perfect little mold, let him live his own life while he was with me.  It wasn’t perfect, but I resisted telling him anything, cleaned up after him and noticed that he adapted to my expectations.  I didn’t lose sleep, although I worried more about him getting home safely than I have in the past.  He communicated with me very well, let me know what was going on, so I could sleep soundly.  Our last night, I didn’t even notice when he came home.

What meant the most to me during his visit?  Perhaps it is the realization that he values me, looks at some of my interests as positive things.  It is very obvious that he thinks my mountain biking is a cool thing.  I can tell that the time invested in him over the years was not a waste.  I feel valued.  I needed that.  One thing that cemented that he is thinking of me was Saturday night, when his car needed windshield wipers, and he wanted to borrow a car.  He acknowledged that maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t ready to loan out my ‘new’ car to him.  It was a good thing to me, a confirmation that he is starting to get it.  I needed that.

I am tentatively proud.  He is making strides, working on gaining my confidence.  This whole divorce thing is a tough journey and he is working through it.  Like the title of today’s blog, I know that we both are working into a new relationship, a seasoning of sorts.

 

 

 

 

Treasure

I read my friends’ blogs before I write my own, usually.  Sometimes all I have the opportunity to do is read.  It’s OK.  Value here, in the blog world, comes from the quality of friendships that are cultivated here, rather than the volume of writing that is produced.  That statement is my personality type coming out, as it rings true in nearly (if not all) all aspects of my life.

Blessings are funneled through the people in my life.

If I didn’t realize that simple little truth, I might be feeling a tad bit inadequate.  After all, if I focused on the things that I have it would be real easy to be consumed with envy.  My home is very modest, small by some standards (1024 square feet), furnished comfortably and tastefully Goodwill.  It’s quiet and serene, with a large balcony that spans the width of my living room and dining room, with a peaceful view, and an huge wood burning fireplace.  I drive a Subaru.  That car rocks and is a cool ride.  Clothing would be more if a priority if I wasn’t supporting a college student.  Friends tell me I have a good shirt collection.  The bikes I have are nice, plentiful, several steps above department store quality, but all but one were purchased used or rescued from the scrap heap.  They all ride like a dream, and the carbon mountain bike I purchased a few months ago is sweet beyond sweetness.

Those bikes exposed me to quite a few people who are wealthy,  with many very nice and expensive things — houses, cars, etc….  Comparing myself to them could be quite a downer.  Over the years, especially when I was younger, struggling to support a family, envy and resentment often were a struggle.  Thankfully, I was close enough to those guys, especially one guy, to realize what a hold those things had on them.  The fear of losing them was real and it kept many of them from seeing the true blessings in their lives.  That fear affected their decisions and character, sometimes prevented them from getting close to others as they were exposed to that same envy and resentment that I felt, knew what a burden that wealth put on them.  One friend, who I just happened to work for, ultimately let that fear ruin our friendship.

I should clarify that one.  He owns several houses, mansions by most standards.  More than one Porsche, a Bentley, a Maserati, and several other vehicles.  Many of his bicycles cost well over $10K.  He rents a condo at a place called Iron Gate, just for his vehicles — it’s a condo where it’s against the rules to live there!  His employees recognized his penchant for extravagance, mainly because he didn’t hide it, and most resented him because their compensation was less than generous (mine wasn’t, I know).  When business seemed to be taking a downswing, the person he chose to run his business started targeting long term employees and put extreme pressure on those employees.  A lot were fired.  I was one of those employees, a few months away from my 25 year company anniversary when I was fired in dramatic fashion.  I had never been given anything but glowing performance reviews.  When I saw what was being done to me, I asked that friend, a man I had ridden countless tours with and shared his life, to talk to me about what was going on.  “What do you expect me to do about it?” was his reply.  His heart was in the things he owned, in preserving those things and not losing them, not in the people who had helped make those things possible.  His treasure was in his treasures.. and he wasn’t happy or satisfied.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Jesus knocked it out of the park with that one.  I understand what he is talking about more and more each year that I live.  Realizing that the things I have are blessings, and important, but that the blessings really are far more than what I can touch or see, is one of the most valuable lessons that life has taught me.  Each day that I am able to be aware of the myriad of blessings being tossed my way is a good day.  I have to be aware or I am going to miss recognizing some.  That is something I have had to learn.

The last two years since my divorce have been a time where I have had to reach out to my creator.  I realize now that a lot of the crap in my life was preventing me from seeing that I am truly blessed.  The friends I have now are true friends, people I believe that creator have blessed me with, the people who either stuck with me when my marriage fell apart or came closer to me when I needed them.  Some have a lot of wealth, but they have learned the lesson that makes them value my friendship, don’t fear my envy, let me be their friend because it’s not their stuff that makes them valuable to me.  Others are in the same boat as I am, modestly blessed with things, content with what they have.

When I look at myself now, I feel very wealthy.  God is good.  He has taught me where my treasures are.

May you be thankful today.  May your thanks come from where your heart is.  If you need to be reminded of your blessings, may today be the day when that reminder becomes reality.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Fall Rides

There is something about the beauty of the woods when the green gives way and opens up, gives us a full view of what was hidden all summer.  It’s my favorite time of year to ride, and last Saturday’s ride was one of the reasons why.  I rode at a place called Kickapoo State Recreation area, just west of Danville, IL.  It’s a gem that is found in the midst of a heck of a lot of corn.  I had a few hours to ride while I waited for my son to finish his school event.  Good thing I anticipated some lag time when I visited him!

I encountered a couple riding a tandem mountain bike, with their young trail dog excitedly running along.  Loved it.  The experience is always better because of the people I meet along the way!

Pumpkin Partners

Steve Lisa Corn Maze pumpkinsWhich pumpkin do you like the best?  Funny thing is, we weren’t having a competition, we were just having fun.  After a day stomping carefully through a muddy corn maze, riding pedal go karts, playing silly games, eating deliciously warm apple cider donuts, we capped the day off by eating dinner together and carving pumpkins.  It was a relaxed kind of fun, the way I like it.

Mine is the one with the bloody fangs.

We’re having fun.  It’s been a year I wasn’t expecting.  At the beginning of this year,  I broke up with my first post-divorce romantic endeavor, an interesting sort named Deborah who taught me a few things about dating in this stage of my life.  She wasn’t a bad thing, just not the one who was going to be able to sustain my heart for the rest of my life.  When I broke up with her, I thought I was going to take the rest of the year off from dating, enjoy my free time and ride my bike more, spend more time indulging the bachelor life.

Notice that I said ‘we’.

Lisa lives in the condo building next door to mine.  I live in a cozy little community, each little four unit condo it’s own village.  The condo association as a whole is small, quite a bit like a very small town.  I see my neighbors a lot, talk and visit as we all live.  I noticed Lisa shortly after I moved her, and as I now know, vice versa.  She stopped by to talk often when I was out in my garage putzing around on a bike or cleaning my car.  We got to know each other.  I was interested in her and I thought she might be interested in me.  But she had a boyfriend.  I had a girlfriend.

He died.  I killed mine off (not literally).

Last February, after I had finished an icy ride on my fat bike and was sponging my bike off (in my tights, no less), Lisa stopped to say hi.  She was walking her dog.  I had just found her online dating profile, had found out that she is a Christian from reading that profile, and I was curious.  So I asked her about it.

Her boyfriend had died from a heart attack last November, I knew.  She knew I had broken it off with Deborah.

Coffee was our first date.  March.  We started seeing each other more frequently.  Then her youngest son was found dead of an overdose in May.  People started looking at me as the guy who supported her through that time.

The condo pool opened.  We became a ‘thing’ as we swam together, as the rumors spread around the community that we were dating.

It was strange at first dating someone who lives close enough to walk over in a few seconds just to say hello.

Her other son has grown close to me, as has her granddaughter.  She likes what we have, a bond that she never has had before.  We do things together.

Yet she is giving me the space to live my life.  We know that a relationship takes time.  My children don’t know her yet, probably aren’t ready for that.  I am not sure we are at that point yet.  That’s OK.

But I have some people that keep me grounded.  It’s nice.

 

Fregley Wants His Two Dollars

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Saturday morning’s tight attire. A friend wanted me to send her a picture. I wore the same stuff yesterday….

It wasn’t a picture perfect day, at least not weather wise, but the temperature was close to perfect if you like it cool and comfortable for cycling.  Before I ventured outside, I checked my phone to determine if it was I was going to be riding in shorts or tights — 45 degrees.  Tights.  Light layers.  The weather here was rainy and cool/cold all week, so my usual Sunday trail choice was reported to still be water logged.  I loaded up the bike on my Yakima hitch rack, headed to one of my other favorite trail systems that was showing a trail status updated to yellow — I and my Salsa would be getting a little muddy.  After driving a few miles, I looked at the dashboard thermometer.  It wasn’t 45 degrees.  It was nearly 60.

Oops.  I might have been a tad overdressed.  Thankfully, it was still cool enough for tights and my old fleece pullover could be removed.  That meant I would be wearing the long sleeve road jersey that was my middle layer, but I would be more comfortable.  If I didn’t see any of my friends, who would mock me mercilessly for wearing road clothes on my mountain bike, I would be OK.

Palos has trails that are very easy, a lot of intermediate with serious challenges to them, and some that are very difficult.  I chose the intermediate for my ride.  My Salsa is a 29 plus, which means that the wheels are 29″ diameter wheels with extra wide rims, allowing for a wider tread.  The 2.6″ tire tread width, carbon frame, dual suspension make most trail features a no brainer.  I remember the days of riding my 26″ hardtail, the beating my body took on the same trails and the fatigue.  The Salsa takes it easy on my 58 year old body.  Add some years of experience to the better bike, and the ride gets not only more interesting, but longer.  The bike also levels the playing field for this semi old guy when riding with people decades younger.

I intentionally avoided the trails I know hold moisture and turn into mud bogs.  Thankfully, the people who build and maintain the trails at Palos have made a lot of improvements to the trails to correct the trouble sections of trails, so I really only needed to avoid one connector.  There is armoring, reroutes, drains, gravel.  When I rode Sunday, there were a few puddles but nothing deep (thankfully… it’s no fun to get sucked into a deep puddle).  The trails were pleasantly tacky, water crossings shallow with armoring making them fast and fun.  Since there was no Bears game and the St. Louis Cardinals had a travel day (looks like no World Series this year.. they are rolling over for the Nats), I arrived early and had plenty of time to ride.  That meant I could ride everything I wanted to ride, take some extra loops.

I felt good, had no need to be in a hurry.  I warmed up by taking trails that required a little more climbing, with the intention of taking them back later on.  They are relatively short trails with moderate incline, twisty with several banked berms.  I chose a connector that is a screaming downhill that culminates with three decent jumps at the bottom.  It connects to a newer trail called Stone House, a local favorite that features a lot of severe drops and peaceful jaunts through the woods along the sides/tops of ravines.  There is an old stone shelter in the middle where most riders and hikers stop to rest (and some use it for other things — the stories abound).  I rolled past the stone house, eager to get to Out and Back, another favorite of mine, with lots of seriously fun challenges.  Along the way, I met my friend Melissa leading a group of riders coming the other way.  She’s a great and very fast rider.  Any other day, I might have turned around and tried to keep up.  However, I just wanted to enjoy the ride, not beat myself up.

I finished Out and Back, paused for a minute at the trail head sign to catch my breath, then turned around to ride the same trail the opposite direction.  There is a connector from Out and Back, but it’s usually a mess, so it’s better just to ride back the opposite direction.  Besides, I wanted to ride Three Ravines, Zip Tie, and Campground.

A few hundred yards in, I heard a rider behind me.  Since he was going faster than I was, I pulled over and let him pass.  The rider was young, without a helmet.  He hesitated as he passed, so I wondered if maybe he hadn’t chased a rabbit, didn’t really have the ummpphhh to stay ahead of me.  That was the case.  Shortly, I had to pass him, especially when the trail got tough.  I don’t know if it was the lack of helmet, which I found out he had accidentally left at home, or if it was just a lack of experience that slowed him down on the tough stuff.  He lagged a few hundred yards behind me most of the time, only catching up when the trail smoothed out.

FregleyFregley latched on to me.  The guy seriously looked like Fregley (from Diary of a Wimpy Kid).  Usually I don’t mind sharing the trail with someone I don’t know, but Sunday I kind of just wanted to ride on my own, set my own pace, ride fast when I wanted to, slow when fast wasn’t required.   Everywhere I went, Fregley was there.  When I stopped at the stone house on the return trip, Fregley stopped ahead of me, started again when I started, stayed on my tail.  When I stopped again, he stopped with me, talking this time with a bit of nervousness.  He followed me again, rode Three Ravines, told me he could never make it completely through two of the ravines.  It was true.  I zipped through the ravines, thought about looking back to see if he was OK, then rolled into Zip Tie.  No more Fregley.

Until he was there.  He came through the trail the opposite way, saw me, and turned around to follow me.  I swear I heard TWO DOLLARS (another movie reference) from behind me.

Do I sound like an old grumpy jerk?

Fregley was a nice kid, complimentary at the end.  He said he learned a few things watching me (probably the wrong things).  I told him it was more about the bike, plus experience.  The key is to not let your mind slow you down, tell you that you can’t do something.  I guess it was nice after all.  Usually, when I ride with others, those riders are more skilled than I am.  It was nice to see that maybe I do know a few things.

The Desire to Sort of Share

How many people who write blogs let or want anyone close to them to read their blogs.  Now, if it’s a professional blog and not necessarily a personal blog, that might be a different story, but my guess is that many people don’t want anyone close to them or who knows them to read what they put out here.  That’s what it is like for me.

At one time in my blog life, I wrote nearly every day, wrote about what happened to be on my mind for the day.  Writing daily was an exercise, an effort to build my creative muscle, a joy derived simply by reading what came out of my head.  At that point, while writing a blog was in its infancy, I wanted to share those thoughts with everyone and that included people I know.  What better what to create dialogues that I might not have a chance to spark, do that every day?  Not only that, but a blog allowed me to share as much of my own opinion as possible, something I don’t always do in a typical face to face conversation, especially a group conversation.

There were times a blog would blow up, when the comments and conversation regarding a certain blog became heated, when I would feel like I needed to defend my position.  Usually that came when I wrote something about my faith or related to that faith.  I spent a brief period of my life as a Christian church pastor, after all, my college education focused on the bible, and a part of me still wanted to preach.  I still do feel that tug, evidenced as I sit in church, a sermon forming in my head as I listen to the sermon.  Those times of blog conflict taught me a lot about myself, helped me to ‘mature’ (a process that will be constant until the day I die).

This may seem strange to say now, but when I started blogging I was not consciously aware of the social aspect of blogging.  I did like the thought that someone out there might read what I wrote, would say something about, help me to become a better writer.  In those days, blogging was more of a social media platform than it is now.  Facebook and the other social media platforms were not really popular yet.  That social aspect was something I was not really prepared for.  I was naive.

It was that social aspect that my now ex wife didn’t like.  When she finally read my blog, something I encouraged her to do, wanted her to do, her reaction was extreme to the point where it almost destroyed our marriage.  She didn’t like the thoughts that came out of my mind and told me so, but she also didn’t like that other people read those thoughts, commented and followed my blog.  Even though I didn’t think of it the way she did, she thought I was being unfaithful in some form.

That day, the day she started checking my blog, is when my writing changed.  I quit telling people about my blog.  When Facebook came around, I shared my blog posts there for a while, then realized that some people I did not want to read my thoughts… could.  My ex and I shared a FB page, so her sisters could access those thoughts.  It’s difficult to communicate the judgement they are capable of.

Not only did my style of writing change, at least when it came to my blog, but the frequency of  writing changed.  She was jealous of my time, didn’t like that I would immerse myself into my PC or journal for an hour in the evening, convinced that I was somehow unfaithful and my writing was the cause.  I took to writing early in the morning, wrote less on my blog, more on fiction, especially short stories.  Some of those stories weren’t too bad, at least I think so, but then I learned something else about creativity — it’s personal.  Sharing something personal isn’t as easy as one thinks.

I remember the day that my creepy boss discovered my blog a few years ago, on a seemingly random Google search.  He oozed into my office, the stench of manipulation preceding him, and I vowed to be even more careful.  This blog became less personal (yes, it is).  Prior to my divorce, I really needed to let my soul out, and I created a totally anonymous blog for that purpose.  It’s one I will never let anyone who even remotely knows me read.  A friend who I know only through sharing that blog, told me they are amazed that I dare to share what I share.  It’s intensely personal, but it works for more, and I like that people can read it, benefit from what I share.  Strange, but true.

I remember the day when I read a portion of a NaNoWriMo novel that I was writing to a group of friends.  One of those friends had asked me to write her into the story, so I did.  She was a power walker, my novel was an apocalyptic story where demons were in a battle to take over, and my protagonist rescued her.  After she resisted, he shoved her out of the moving car, where the hordes took her over.  It was funny, believe it or not, and those I read it to laughed… but I hated it.  I will never share my writing that way again.

I wonder, do you share your blog?